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[Edison Newsreels: San Francisco Earthquake aftermath]

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[Edison Newsreels: San Francisco Earthquake aftermath]

Published 1906

Cleaning up downtown San Francisco after the conflagration.

Run time 4:55
Producer Edison (Thomas A.)
Sponsor N/A
Audio/Visual Si, B&W


Edison newsreels of San Francisco earthquake / falling buildings / taking away the hurt / troops marching along Van Ness Avenue with relief supplies / pan views of the destruction 1906 Earthquake

Disasters Fires Destruction San Francisco, California safety


Reviewer: GapOkie - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 10, 2012
Subject: soio8a9fsa get lost!
this ain't no sales site. zero stars for you; five for the film.
Reviewer: RobertReese - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 31, 2011
Subject: A must see education piece if I ever saw one - for historical, anthropological, philosophical, and technical reasons
Wow.. on so many levels.

Shot, apparently by HAND by Edison himself, in the aftermath of the 1906 SF earthquake. The historical value of this footage cannot be stressed. Anthropologically, to glimpse what life and lifestyle was like at the turn of the century is eye-opening. It really didn't sink in that horses were still the primary mode of transportation, and that ALL of the roads were dirt - yet the advent of the motor carriage and the motion picture camera are clearly objects of interest due to their obvious rarity. Even somthing as mundane as clothing of the era is interesting and has great value, particularly to period scholars and entertainment set and costume designers. Notice the clothes of the soldiers, the horsemen, and the general citizens (wow, did they dress up fancy back then or what!) are distinguishable.

Philosophically, the knowledge that every single one of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of faces and faceless people in this film have all passed on. Not one single person still lives that were shown in that footage.

It's also interesting to see how the city fared after such utter devastation. One can only imagine that Chicago was once similarly situated and how it too rose from its literal ashes.

@eliannaj: No, not fair at all to subtract points for quality. Remember, this film is 100+ years old, shot by hand-crank in a chaotic, dusty, and dirty environment on archaic equipment using a rudimentary processing and primitive film. Remember also that storage of film back then was improper at best, and negligent at worst. Knowing now the adversity this film faced to come out so grandly, I can only assume that you'd give back those lost stars, and then some.
Reviewer: Ceecat - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 1, 2007
Subject: San Francisco Earthquake
Amazing on several levels. The destruction was so complete. I wonder what that earthquake would have measured on the Richter scale. Of course, most of the buildings then were bricks and mortar, hence all the rubble.

What a privilege to see this footage. Filmed by Edison himself? The quality is excellent for its time and still stands up.
Reviewer: wizard100 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 24, 2007
Subject: SanFranEarthquake
Just a note on a film relating to this. The 1936 b/w film "San Francisco" with Clark Gable had a one channel optical soundtrack that incorporated into it the actual seismograph of the 1906 earthquake so the rumbling that shook the theatre was the same rumbling that shook SanFran. This in contrast to the 1974 film "Earthquake" that merely had the soundtrack 'trigger' a device that produced pseudo-quake rumbling. regarding the 1936 film, aside from one theatre showing it in the mid 1970s which i was involved with, it was only shown at it's premiere in 1936 with a sound system that would reproduce the low frequency 'quake'. hope this is appropriate addition here.
Reviewer: apenny13 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 29, 2006
Subject: San Francisco Earthquake aftermath - fascinating fact film
Very interesting older documentary of cleanup and post-earthquake 1906 San Francisco. It's impressive how bad the city looks, and the video also gives you a bit of a window into life at the time. There is no sound, and the quality was not great, but it is better than I would have expected. Very interesting from a historical perspective.
Reviewer: rrrrob - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 16, 2006
Subject: fascinating
i found the quality of the print to be much better than I expected. I was impressed by the decent cinematography (the simple panning seemed appropriate), and you defitinely get a sense of the unbelievable destruction you'd never get from still pictures. This is a historical keeper, not least of all to the rather skilled director...
Reviewer: eliannaj - favoritefavoritefavorite - September 15, 2006
Subject: Fuzzy, but historically worth it
Fascinating. How often do you get fuzzy, no sound included footage that is of such historical import.

Of interest: the horses who do not appear the least bit stressed out; just standing there doing their job, waiting for their carts to be loaded.

It only loses points for how poor the quality is, but maybe that's not fair.
Reviewer: nolight - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 21, 2006
Subject: impressive
It is somehow impressive to be able to watch moving pictures from 1906. Nothing but impressive.
Reviewer: cyberhacker665 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 9, 2006
Subject: Super
Although black and white its good
Reviewer: david gunnells - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 29, 2005
Subject: historical footage...
Despite the faint, black and white, silent footage, this tiny piece of history is one of the earliest motion captures of the aftermath of a natural disaster.

The Library of Congress has seen fit to add the "San Francisco Earthquake and Fire April 18, 1906" to the National Film Registry (, though I'm not sure if the footage here is the same as that included in the Registry.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavorite - December 17, 2005
Subject: Only a fire.. keep moving.
Fairly faint footage that features the aftermath of the quake and fire in San Fransisco in 1906. Fairly surreal of course is that this film is almost exactly 100 years old, and here I am, watching it now! Anyways, a heck of a lot doesnÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂt really happen in this, just a lot of people wandering around. WhatÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂs left of the buildings looks eerily like Ground Zero in 2001.
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